ECB board member calls for Greek debt relief

ALEXANDROS VLACHOS

Former Finance Minister and Governor of the Bank of Greece Yannis Stournaras delivers a speech during the annual general assembly of the Bank of Greece, in Athens, Greece, 26 February 2015.

Debt relief before the end of the year?


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In a speech delivered to an Athens audience on Tuesday, a European Central Bank board member called for debt relief.

“If the Greek debt is not judged to be viable, the expected [return to the markets] in 2018 is not possible,” says Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras.

In making this statement, the ex officio member of the European Central Bank board is aligned with the view of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Washington-based institution does not consider the Greek program viable.

But, Mr. Stournaras is not necessarily in tune with a number of EU member states facing elections in 2017, especially the Netherlands and Germany.

“Debt talks have been a pledge by the creditors since 2012, repeated last May, and still not fulfilled,” Stournaras said.

Surprisingly, his message is also perfectly in tune with the demands of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Yiannis Stournaras served as a Minister of Finance during the previous Adonis Samaras administration and he is not known to have the best of relations with the current Prime Minister.

The Governor of the Greek Central Bank also confirmed optimistic growth projections for 2017 (2,7%) and 2018 (3%) on which plans for a budget surplus depend. However, he did not confirm the government’s estimate for marginal growth in 2016, aided by a good tourist season. Stournaras maintains the Greek economy will see a small 0,6% recession.

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